- The Washington Times - Monday, October 25, 2004

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Former Vice President Al Gore asked Democrats to channel any anger they still feel from the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2000 election into energy for Sen. John Kerry in this year’s voting.

“I want to come back to the feeling I had four years ago,” Mr. Gore said. “It’s awfully important that the Supreme Court does not pick the next president of the United States and this president does not pick the Supreme Court.

“The strength of our democracy is at stake,” said Mr. Gore, who lost the election in 2000 when the Supreme Court halted selective Florida recounts aimed at overturning George W. Bush’s state-certified lead of 537 votes.

Campaigning in a heavily black community just north of Fort Lauderdale, Mr. Gore urged audience members to vote early to make sure their votes would count. It was the second day he had spent trying to build on the anger some voters feel about the disputed 2000 election in Florida.

“What are you going to do with those feelings?” he asked. “Turn them into constructive power to change America.

“Early voting is an opportunity to make certain the decision stays with the people,” he said. “When you vote early, they not only have time to count your vote, but we have a chance to do what Santa Claus does … make a list and check it twice.”

That means any irregularities or voters who are denied a chance to cast a ballot can be dealt with before the election, Mr. Gore said.

He said that he still believes that the Supreme Court decision was wrong, but that he respects the institution.

He asked for a moment of quiet respect for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, who was hospitalized outside Washington for treatment of thyroid cancer.

Mr. Gore mixed a dose of humor into his political message.

“I am Al Gore. I used to be the next president of the United States of America,” he told the crowd in Riviera Beach. “I’m a recovering politician. I’m in about step nine, but a crowd like this could lead to a relapse.”

During earlier stops, he said: “I flew on Air Force Two for eight years. Now I have to take off my shoes to get on an airplane.”

He told a story about driving down a road with his wife, Tipper, shortly after losing the last election.

“I looked in the rearview mirror and all of a sudden it just hit me, there was no motorcade there,” he said.

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